The Two Churches
An LDS reader brought up the subject of two churches a while back and behind this thought are several principles at play.
Here is the scripture from the Book of Mormon to which he was referring:
“And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.
“And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.
“And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.
“And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God.” 1 Nephi 14:10-13
The reader rightfully pointed out that a misuse of this scripture can create exclusiveness and a separative attitude, but there is a positive and negative interpretation of every scripture written on the planet.
Let us look for the true principle involved and see what we can discover.
Questions: Most of us realize that no church or teaching is 100 percent true, but perhaps there is a true church from the vantage point of the soul.
What would be the dividing line that separates those who embrace the true church from those who embrace the false church?
Does the member of the church of the lamb, or Christ even have to go to church?
How can one contemplate the principle here without resorting to an exclusive or superior attitude?
As stated, most of us realize that no church or teaching is 100 percent true, but perhaps there is a true church from the vantage point of the soul. What would be the dividing line that separates those who embrace the true church from those who embrace the false church?
There are many hundreds of denominations of Christian churches and hundreds more belonging to the other major religions. Many claim to be the only true religion, others claim to be the best and still others make few claims of unique truth but just seek to provide spiritual food for their flock.
The first question many would ask if they could talk to God face to face is: “Is there a true church representing you, and, if not, why?”
Others have a laid-back attitude toward the subject of truth and will speak of “your truth” and “my truth” as if one is as good as another.
In other words, we have a situation where the religious world is divided into two extremes. One extreme demands we join their religion and if we do not, we are damned (or at least short-changed) for eternity.
The other extreme says one religion is as good as another and maybe even no religion is fine. It doesn’t really matter what we see as our truth as long as we do not hurt people.
Is either of these extremes correct or is it somewhere in the middle?
Actually, there are flaws, not only in both extremes, but also in the middle, for true religion is not found in stone buildings or a formal belief system whether it be left, right or in the middle.
But before we explore the location of the true church let us examine the illusions of the two extremes just mentioned.
Extreme One: I am a member of the one and only true church.
A church is an organization with scriptures and doctrines written down in black and white. Once a number of words are written down, they will be seen and interpreted differently even within one religious sect.
For instance, Jesus said: “Ye are gods.” (John 10:34)
Does this mean we are gods like Jehovah or something else?
If we are gods does this mean we have always been gods or are gods in embryo?
Or was Jesus just messin’ with their minds?
Words written down take shape and all form veils the truth behind the form. The formless truth is only seen through the eyes of the soul. Without this vision there is no true church. All manifested 614175churches are composed of many people who do not see through the eyes of the soul and this tells us that there is no such thing as a one and only true organized religion.
“Okay,” says the believer, “I can accept that some teachings may not be 100 percent true or understood, but I do believe that my church is the only one sanctioned or authorized by God.”
Here is a question for such an individual: Do you think that God only works through your tiny religion that reaches a small percentage of the people of earth? Not only that but you reach a small percentage of people in time or the history of the planet. Also, all people evolve and change so the unenlightened of today may be the enlightened of tomorrow and that tomorrow may even be after death.
The truth that registers with the soul is this: God’s authority is behind any religion that moves its members forward in progression in their intelligence, freedom and love. A religion can have many errors in doctrine yet accomplish this to a degree.
The other extreme also has its illusions. To say that one view of the truth is as good as another is incorrect. This is like saying that 2+2=5 is as true as 2+2=4. There is a point of truth in every matter. Even if the point is not seen, one view will be closer to the point than another in all cases. Those caught in this extreme must learn the principles of discernment and positive judgment so they can approach the truth whatever and wherever that may be. In doing this they must not lose sight of the truth that no one in the world of form is correct all the time. Even so, the truth can be sensed and the seeker can advance toward it.
So what is meant by the fact that the scriptures make reference to a true or accepted church or group of righteous saints? Who are they and where is the church they belonged to?
The real members of the church of God, Christ, Allah, Buddha, Krishna, etc. are not the stalwart members of any physical organization, but those who have the “Father’s name written in their foreheads.” (Rev 14:1) These are they who look within and have found the God of love and desire to selflessly serve their fellow men and women.
These are they who pass the test given by the Master:
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? “When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:31-40
Christ will never ask which church you are a member of, but the true measurement of being worthy of his association is to love and serve all, even the least among us.
There are two things needed in these days: first, for rich man to find out how poor men live, and second for poor men to know how rich men work. – F. Atkinson
May 15, 2007
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